Tag Archives: Jesus

“The Miracle Moment” 20 Years Later

January 17, 1993

William Jefferson Clinton was preparing for his inaugural, the Cowboys beat the 49ers, and God showed Himself powerful and contemporary in a Sunday School class at Houston’s First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.

The lesson that morning was from Psalm 103, primarily verses 1-5.  David is talking to himself and instructs himself to “Bless the Lord” which means give praise or thanks to God.  He then lists some reasons for himself to do so.

He (God) forgives all my sin; He heals all my disease; He redeems my life from the grave, the pit, destruction; He crowns me with love and compassion, loving kindness; and He restores my youth like the eagle.

I stood to teach the class of 150 or more on that morning.  I had never been more emotionally drained than I was that morning.  I had never had less faith than I did that morning.  The pit David described was swallowing me.

But God (aren’t those great words from the Scripture?) changed everything.  Let me explain…

The Back Story

In 1990, I was serving as the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas and had been for some time.  First Baptist was a great church and an historical Southern Baptist Church. In January, I contracted a flu virus that ultimately penetrated the mylan sheath of my vocal folds and damaged the nerve tissue beyond repair.

Over the next three years I was seen by over 63 specialists and their teams (totaling over 200 doctors) as they tried to diagnose and treat me.  I had been left with a voice that sounded like the worst case of laryngitis you have ever heard, and could only make that if I screamed at the top of my lungs.  My daughters were both students at Baylor and I could not even call their dorm because I sounded like an obscene phone caller.

Though the congregation had been incredibly patient with my disability, I had resigned for obvious reasons in 1991.  Everything I had ever done to earn a living had been connected to my ability to speak and suddenly my “tool kit” was gone.

We had moved back to Houston and my wife had become the primary breadwinner in our family.  A dear friend gave me a job as a private investigator working in an area where my voice was unimportant, but I ached to do the ministry to which I had been called.

The Catacombs Class

First Houston had a Sunday School class that had first met in the basement of the church, hence “The Catacombs.”  A wonderful group of folks that I had been privileged to teach before I went to Brenham and with whom contact was never lost.  When they learned that we were moving back to Houston, they came to Brenham with bodies and trucks and moved us…or, as one of our directors said, “Retrieved” us.

It was to Houston’s First Baptist Church that we returned and to that class as members.  Their support and fellowship was (and is) more valuable than words can express.

In April, 1992, the teacher of the Catacombs had to take some time away for personal reasons.  Our directors (a husband and wife) asked if I would fill in while a permanent replacement was sought.  I protested that I was too hard to understand which was met with “we’ll listen REALLY carefully.”  I have come to understand that they asked, not because I was such a profound teacher, but because they loved me and knew how desperately I needed to teach.

The female half of our director team was persistent about me becoming the permanent teacher even when the educational staff of the church expressed their reservations because of my voice.  She told them that she was as certain that God wanted me to teach that class as she could possibly be and they ultimately relented.

Little did she, they, or me truly know what God was preparing.

The Moment

As I mentioned before, I was in a horrible pit as I took to the platform that morning.  Two days previous, I had sat for hours in my living room with a shotgun in my mouth and I had come to the end of myself.  “Blessing the Lord” was difficult for me.  In truth, the only reason I was there was because I could not find a substitute and I could not simply not show up.  So my teaching that morning was perfunctory, nothing more.

As I began the outline I discussed the word “all.”  It literally means “every single one without exception.”  Christ’s forgiveness of all my sin is what makes the Good News GREAT.  I had no problem with that discussion.

But, when I began to talk about healing, my words were, “I still believe God heals,” while my thoughts were, “but why not me?”  I moved through that discussion as honestly as I could and began my third thought…”He redeems my life from the pit.”

I began my discourse, “I have had, and you have had, in times past, pit experiences.”  On the word, “pit,” the pressure that had been in my throat for three years was gone as if someone had removed their hand from choking me.  I continued, startled, “We’ve all had times when our life seemed to be in a pit, in a grave, and we didn’t have an answer for the pit we find ourselves in.”  While I was speaking, I was swallowing choke-free, and I’ll never forget my thought…”is that what I think it is?”

Since Then

Doctors confirmed that it was what I thought it was when I saw them the following days.  My voice has been totally restored, and to quote my lead physician, “I can’t find any evidence that you ever had a voice problem.”

The event happened on January 17, 1993, the third Sunday of the month…today.  The event was caught on tape in the most casual way.  The event changed my life and has affected literally millions of people worldwide.

The Catacombs Class started recording lessons decades before that Sunday.  In a large group, 100% attendance is impossible.  In order to be of service, a cassette recording was made no matter who taught, and one or two copies would be made available the following Sunday.  The cassettes would simply be on the back table and if you wanted one, it was there.  When I say, “no big deal,” I mean, “no deal at all!”  But in that church with over 20,000 members that was the only class that recorded their lessons.  Anywhere else would not have had the impact that God intended.

I didn’t ask to teach the class, our director fought to have me teach.  I didn’t write my own material, I was using what used to be called, “Bible Book Series” material that was used Convention-wide.  And, don’t forget, I didn’t want to be there.  Coincidences?  I think not.

From that day to this I celebrate the restoration of my vocal ability.  I wrote of the experience the following week and described it in terms that likened it to Lazarus coming from the grave.  My gratitude and my emotions have not waned in 20 years.

I have crisscrossed this country and the world telling the story of that moment.  God has used me as an object lesson of His grace and power.  I have appeared on the Oprah show and have shared my story with one little lady in a nursing home who could not speak, but wept as I related the timeless story of His Goodness.  I still go wherever the opportunity is given to share the story and I will do so until I am physically unable to do so.

If you would like to hear The Moment for yourself, go to our website, www.nuvoice.org.  It can be heard on our Home Page.  Listen and believe this…if God could do that for me, He can solve whatever problem you have in your life.  He loves you every bit as much as He loves me.

We’ve been saying it for 20 years….and counting.

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A Nation Grieves

A Nation Grieves

Words to adequately describe the events in Newtown in the past few days do not exist.  For the heroes who did their best to protect the innocent children who were massacred, “grateful” is a woefully insufficient description.

It was an almost immediate response for many to politicize the tragedy, but this is not the time for the political discussion.  Whether the fault lies with “guns” or with the “moral decline” of this nation is a dispute in which we will gladly engage at another time, but it is appalling to use these beautiful, innocent, babies and their families to make points.  This is a time for compassion and support for those who have suffered the loss.

Today, we grieve.  We grieve for what the shooter did to others, but we also grieve for his family, who lost son, brother, and mother in the shooting, and must carry the family name for the balance of their lives.

I have a two adult daughters and a 9-year old granddaughter.  As I watched and listened to the news reports this past week, all I wanted to do was embrace all of them.  I wanted to tell each of them, one more time, how much love I have for them and that nothing else in the world mattered.

We know who, we know how, we know what, we know when, and we know where.  We will never understand the why.  The shooter’s personality and mental condition will be sliced and diced by the pseudo-experts over the days and weeks ahead, but, at the end of the day, their opinions may be “educated,” but they are just guesses.  Only he knew why he did what he did

Death is never an easy subject to grasp, even for adults.  The death of a child is, emotionally, even worse.   King David was a man of war.  He was accustomed to men around him dying.  But, when the death of Absalom, his son, was reported to him, the Scripture says he was “shaken.”  He wept, and cried out what every parent of every child who dies has said, “If only I had died instead of you….” (2 Samuel 18:33).

This tragedy comes in the midst of the celebration of the birth of a baby, a unique child, the Son of God.  He, too, was killed senselessly and without just cause.  But, His death was part of the plan of God, and he rose after three days as He had promised he would.  Paul reminds us that believers in Jesus Christ do not “grieve as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  Note that he did not say we would not grieve.  The separation, the hopes, dreams, plans and futures that will not be realized, the senselessness of an untimely death, cause us to hurt, to grieve, to mourn.

It is right and appropriate that we do, however, because we believe that because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, we have hope that we will be reunited.  It is that hope to which we cling.  It is that hope we offer as comfort to grieving parents.  Innocent children were slaughtered, they are with God, and we live in HOPE.

To all in Newtown, and to all who grieve, we offer a prayer from the famous Christmas Carol, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.”

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

CBXmas TreeCharlie Brown TV Special in 47th Season

Our world has changed dramatically since the Christmas Season of 1965.  That was the year that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first aired on CBS.  It has been enjoyed by millions ever since and has become as much a part of American Holiday TV as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  But, in 2012, it is not politically correct to tell the Christmas story on secular TV.  In 2012, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Chanukah, and even Earth Day are all approved subjects for public consumption.  Christmas, on the other hand, creates controversy even when expressed in a 47-year old cartoon.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Parable

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the depiction of the loneliness that many feel during the season and the joy that comes from inclusion.  It also contrasts the sacred with the secular in Christmas, and that is the source of the controversy.  “Sacred” is not an acceptable topic for secularists.

Charlie Brown and the little Christmas tree are parallel characters.  Each of them is considered by their peers to be defective and unwanted.  Charlie Brown begins the show looking into an empty mailbox, finding nothing, and exclaiming he “just doesn’t understand” Christmas.  All his friends are so shallow consumed with the secular trappings of the season, that they find Charlie Brown’s search for meaning beyond their understanding.

For the other characters, Christmas is all about Santa and the gifts that they will receive.  Using comically PC language for today, Sally, Charlie’s own sister, says she only wants her “fair share” of the Christmas loot.  The children in the Peanuts neighborhood don’t understand Christmas any more than the secularists of today.  Self-centeredness and consumption have replaced peace on earth and good will toward men.

The Tree

When sent to pick out a Christmas tree, Charlie Brown picks the sorriest tree on the lot, proclaiming, “This little one needs a home.”  After much initial ridicule from the rest of the cast, the tree is trimmed and is transformed into a beautiful centerpiece for celebration.  The tree is a beautiful symbol of God’s relationship with His creation.

That poor tree was ugly and useless.  There was nothing the tree could do for itself.  That little tree was not just unappealing, it was wretched.  Guess what?  We are like that forlorn tree.  We are wretched and hopeless.  Our world is ugly and our presence does nothing to enhance it.  There is nothing about us that makes us appealing, we need “a home,” and love that is beyond our own ability to earn or deserve.

Choosing us makes no more sense that Charlie Brown’s selection of that little tree.  No one can understand why He would choose us, but He did.  Instead of being abandoned, we were suddenly included.  Instead of being the object of ridicule, we unexpectedly have eternal value.  After choosing us, he “decorated” us with His own love, mercy, grace, and righteousness.  He made the ugly beautiful.

Merry Christmas!

The real story of the Birth of Christ contained in the Gospel of Luke is recited by Linus in the performance.  Secular humanists, et. al., would much prefer it not be included, but Charles Schulz was adamant about its inclusion almost 50 years ago, and so it remains.

Frankly, the Gospel is the point; the point of A Charlie Brown Christmas; the point of the Holiday; and the point of life itself.  We were without hope and God chose to become one of us so that we would have the opportunity to know Him.  Why would He choose to do such a thing?  No good reason, but He did.  He “decorated” an ugly tree on Calvary’s hill so that He might “decorate” us with peace, joy, love, and eternal life.

If you celebrate another holiday at this time of the year, I wish you a sincere, “Happy Holiday.”  But, I expect your respect of MY Holiday in return.  No matter how much you secularize, marginalize, ridicule and sue, Jesus is still the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown and to you!

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Hope Is Not Enough

Spiritual Truth

 As you are probably aware, I have been very active in the political process for the past couple of years.  It was in a secular discussion this past week that a spiritual truth was, again, made clear.

I was speaking with an individual about the upcoming election and in the course of our conversation she said that she, “sure hoped” things would come out the way she wanted.  I asked her what she was doing to ensure that result and she looked at me with a blank stare that made clear she was totally lost.  Her response confirmed her look, “What do you mean what am I doing?,” she asked.

I responded by asking the first and most obvious question, “Are you registered to vote?”

When she told me she didn’t know whether she was registered to vote, I knew she was not.  I explained to her that unless she was registered, she would not even be allowed to cast a ballot in November.  She asked me where to go and what to do to be sure she was registered.  I told her and drew her a map.

Religion is NOT Relationship

 I must admit that I walked away from our conversation shaking my head.  What is so simple is so foreign and difficult to so many.  But so it is with eternal life.  When it comes to heaven, they “sure hope” they get there, but they have done nothing to assure that outcome.

Trusting Christ for salvation is so simple and easy, but it is so foreign and so difficult to so many.  Unfortunately, religion, and simple faith have become intertwined over the years.  The simplicity of trusting the sacrifice Jesus made by dying on the cross for my forgiveness often gets lost in the rhetoric and the rituals of religion.

It is “hoping” they do everything right that leaves people wondering about their eternity.  Frankly, I am certain beyond any doubt, that if my eternity depended upon my “doing it right,” I would never see the Pearly Gates.  Religion has killed the hope of millions, but relationship, simple faith, always brings life.

Now, “faith” is a verb and the only activity in which I am required to be involved is “faithing.”  I must actively, intentionally, and completely faith Jesus Christ, simply hoping is not enough.

Preparation Required

 I have been involved in retirement and estate planning at one level or another since the middle 70s.  One concept I tried to communicate to my clients was that of urgency.  The future seems so far away, particularly when young.  But, without planning, the future arrives and it is not a welcome event.

Jesus told the parable of the 10 bridesmaids in Matthew 25.  The point of His parable was that bliss was something for which preparation was easy, but essential.  When the 5 bridesmaids were shut out of the feast, it was final.  There was no grace available at that point.

My friend, you too, must prepare for your eternity.  It is not sufficient to simply “hope” you’ll be OK, or that God will stretch His law just for you.  Begin your eternity plan right now.  Faith Jesus Christ, today, right now, and your eternity is secure.  Hope is not enough.

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JESUS HAD A WIFE????

New Evidence of Jesus’ Wife?

 A “new” piece of “evidence” has been made public by Harvard Professor, Dr. Karen King.  According to King, 4 words, in Coptic script, written on a 1.5” X 3” fragment of papyrus translate to, “Jesus said to them, my wife.”  The fragment is said to date to the fourth century.

Dr. King was good enough to say that this new “evidence” does not prove that Jesus was married, but that it is evidence that early Christians believed that Jesus was married.  Really?  Four words on a document written, as an educated guess, in the fourth century provide new “evidence” of what early Christians believed about Jesus?  Really???

Now my cynical mind wants to know why this new “evidence” hasn’t surfaced until now.  And, how objective is Dr. Karen King in her analysis?  Are there any agendas that might be playing out?

Who is Dr. Karen King?

 Well, let’s look at objectivity first, shall we?  Dr. King is, according to her bio, “Karen L. King was appointed to the Divinity School in 1998 and from 2003 to 2009 served as the Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History. In October 2009, she became the first woman appointed as the Hollis Professor of Divinity, the oldest endowed chair in the United States (1721). Trained in comparative religions and historical studies, she pursues teaching and research specialties in the history of Christianity.”

Dr. King is also an author, her books include The Secret Revelation of John; The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle; What Is Gnosticism?; Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (with Elaine Pagels); and Revelation of the Unknowable God. Other publications include Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism (ed.) and Women and Goddess Traditions in Antiquity and Today (ed.).

King revealed this new “discovery” in a paper delivered to a group of about 300 “academics” in Rome.  Interestingly, the Vatican made no mention of her new “discovery” in any of their media releases about the some 60 papers that were presented.

According to King, the fragment belongs to an anonymous collector who hired her to translate and analyze it.  There was no detail given on how the fragment was originally discovered or where or under what circumstances.  Tests run on the papyrus, ink, and language seem to indicate no obvious fraud.

So…what’s the problem?  Simply that Dr. King has indicated a predilection to Gnosticism, which directly contradicts the Jesus of the Bible.  That predilection needs to be revealed when her work on Jesus is presented.  Not doing so is deceptive.  The academic fear is that if the agenda is revealed, the report is degraded.  They are right!

The Hypocrisy of “Evidence”

 Secular society and media wants, so badly, to prove that Jesus was not Divine; that there is no God; that there are no absolutes; that faith is only for the uninformed, the uneducated, and the unsophisticated.  So, a tiny fragment of a document of unknown origin, submitted by an anonymous owner, to an academic who has a bias toward Gnosticism, whose translation and analysis of 4 words is presented as “proof” that Jesus was married and is welcomed as NEW evidence.  And that doesn’t require “faith?”  Really??

So…what’s new?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  This sort of ploy is nothing new at all.  Publishing a story under a sensational headline, only to find that the story lacks substance when examined happens every day.  Headlines like, “The Chicago Teachers Strike is About the Children” are similar in substance.

The DaVinci Code was a vastly popular novel.  The novel purported to present a “new” Jesus.  But, the Jesus presented in the novel was a Gnostic Jesus.  The book’s popularity was driven by the desire of the faithless to destroy the Biblical Jesus.  Dr. King’s paper is no different.  Gnosticism is not embraced by most Biblical scholars, just those who have the preconception that there are no absolutes; therefore, the Biblical Jesus could not be true.

Sounds like the difference between liberals and conservatives in politics doesn’t it?

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